Dear Commons Community,
Herb Perr, a good colleague of ours at Hunter College passed away in December 2018. Herb taught arts education in our School of Education for decades. He was dedicated to the arts, to public education and to the City of New York where he lived his entire life. He retired a number of years ago and unfortunately we did not keep contact. Below is his obituary.
May he rest in peace!
Artist, educator and activist Herb Perr died at his home in Brooklyn on December 31, 2018, of a neurological disease.
Born at Coney Island Hospital in 1941, Herb grew up in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. He played basketball for Lincoln High School, even competing at Madison Square Garden, but found his true kindred spirits on Lincoln’s Art Squad. Herb won a full scholarship to study art at New York University and taught art in the New York City school system while earning a master’s degree in education at Hunter College. He began teaching courses in art education at Hunter, where he became a full professor in 1989. Over decades, he encouraged thousands of teachers to infuse art throughout the curriculum.
Under the mentorship of the artist Helen Frankenthaler, Herb evolved as an abstract expressionist painter. His lyrical work appeared in galleries and museums. But a gnawing dissatisfaction with the art business led him to join Artists Meeting for Cultural Change and, in 1980, to co-found Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D). PAD/D provided artists with “a framework within which progressive artists can discuss and develop alternatives to the mainstream art system” (PAD/D Manifesto). The PAD/D archives are now part of the collection at the Museum of Modern Art.
Creative and curious, Herb loved talking to anyone and everyone. He was a PTA president at PS 3 in Greenwich Village, a proud soccer dad, a dedicated gardener, and an inventive cook.
Herb married writer and educator Mimi Bluestone in 1988. Both of their children are artists: Rosa Bluestone Perr is a handpoked tattoo artist, and Joey Bluestone Perr has written and illustrated a graphic novel, to be published in the fall of 2019, about Herb’s unusual family and very full life.